Saturday, October 27, 2007

Creating a Waterfall Illusion Underwater

I was curious as to how the tank above, which took World Ranking 7 in the ADA aquascaping contest this year, created the waterfall illusion. I had seen similar effects created by rising bubbles, but this seems to end before reaching the surface, meaning it is created using a different method (or there was a good deal of Photoshopping involved). However, an anonymous comment tipped me off to a website that explains exactly how it was created, and it is quite creative. To start off, the illusion is created with falling sand, not rising bubbles. However, bubbles still play an important role. See the diagram below:

This is a cross section of the "waterfall." A tube and airstone blows bubbles up through a space behind the wall, and as a result, pulls water and tiny grains of sand (blue dots) from a sloped reservoir (sloped so that gravity pulls the sand down and into the bubble stream) up the narrow space. Once the grains reach a second opening, they forced out the second opening with the water current and fall back down the front of the wall back into the reservoir. Here's a picture of what this looks like before any plants are added:

As you can see, very fine sand must be used for this to work. Additionally, where the sand falls is affected greatly by other currents in the tank, and it will inevitably fall outside of the reservoir. This means this effect is not the most practical for everyday use, as using it with a filter would probably blow the falling sand everywhere else in your tank. I'm sure much tweaking and adjusting is necessary to find the best type of sand suited for this application, and what size space behind the wall works best. How the sand is ejected from the top of the bubble column is also probably a problem area that requires a lot of attention and adjustment. It's hard to tell from the diagram, but the bubble column space most likely extends above the water line. This forces the water pulled up by the bubbles out the sand-ejection opening. Otherwise, the sand would continue to follow the current of bubbles and water up and out the top of the column (and you'd have a messy volcano effect instead of a waterfall!). The final effect, if done correctly, looks absolutely stunning in pictures.

24 comments:

  1. dugg!

    http://digg.com/general_sciences/Creating_a_Waterfall_Illusion_Underwater

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  2. Awesome. Thanks for the insight. Sounds like too much work for me! lol But I'm glad you posted about it, because I've been dying to know how they pulled that off. :-)

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  3. That's very nice efect. Very inspiring aquarium.

    Have a happy Halloween :)

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  4. Are the second two pictures from your own experiments? If so NICE WORK! Otherwise, thanks for the info. I think I might have to play with this a bit to see if I can get it to work for me.

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  5. i WAS wondering how this was made...

    thanks!

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  6. Got any video of this in action?

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  7. This is a really cool effect.

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  8. the idea is so good, so creative!!

    you shared out the great info here ^.^

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  9. Who in Hell ever heard of an underwater waterfall?????????????

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  10. http://www.aquatic-eden.com/2008/01/underwater-aquarium-waterfall-video.html for video of one of these systems in action!

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  11. You can see this at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsaZOn8iXE8

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  12. i had one shaped like a cave for my aquarium, but it broke and i have been trying to find another one since with no luck. It is a lot of hard work though.

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  13. There is another way to do it.It is very easy and I tested it today!...

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  14. Take a look at my try: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZZRiOb5ROE

    I hope you like it.It has a long way to go....

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  15. http://www.aquatic-eden.com/2007/10/creating-waterfall-illusion-underwater.html

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  16. Wow, that is amazing, I may try this, it sounds so simple.....

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  17. If you had a bigger tank, I would suggest you get 4 more Glofish rather than 2-3 to bring the total up to 6 and 4 more Swordtails as well, but that would overstock the 20 gallon you are putting them in.

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  18. This is how it looks like after some months. :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQr53mbiH2Y

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  19. The grain of sand should have enough weight in order not to be greatly affected by other currents in the tank. This waterfall illusion is actually an old technique in aquascape.

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  20. Just stumbled into this- I used to set up aquariums (both salt and fresh water) and probably couldn't do half as good of a job as this looks. Amazing work, just amazing.

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